Do something brilliant and join u3a

September marks the start of a new year for members of Rotherham u3a. So what better time to sign up to join them.

If you’ve always wanted to learn a particular skill or if you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others, Rotherham u3a could be a good option for you.

They are a member-led organisation that runs interest groups aimed at improving your physical, mental and social wellbeing.

You don’t need any qualifications to join, with enjoyment being the prime motive for members.

Neither do you need to be over a certain age. People often think the u3a is for pensioners, but that’s not the case. The only requirement is that you’re no longer in full-time employment. Rotherham u3a are keen to welcome younger adults who may have reduced their working hours or be out of work for whatever reason.

Keeping your brain engaged and active, no matter your age, can also give your life focus and purpose and provide more personal fulfilment.

Members form interest groups covering a wide range of topics and activities. Each group has its own volunteer leader or co-ordinator who has a particular interest or skillset in the subject. Not experts, just enthusiasts, members work together to create a friendly and enjoyable approach to learning.

All venues where group sessions are held are fully accessible, so no worries for people with limited mobility. The majority of venues are also on or close to bus routes so that everyone can get there.

Members pay a single annual enrolment fee of around £35 to cover the course for 33 weeks of the year. It works out less than the cost of a weekly cup of tea or coffee.

For that one payment, Rotherham u3a members have access to over 30 group activities that take place during the daytime throughout the week. Some groups meet weekly, some fortnightly, and others monthly.

While some join to gain new interests or revisit an old hobby now time is spare, others join to make new friends. Members can join as many groups as they wish to, subject to available places. If members need to be accompanied by a carer, then the carer can attend for free.

What activities could you take part in?

There’s everything from walking sports and gentle exercise to arts and crafts, singing and dancing to creating writing and languages. Some activities are hands-on, while others are more discussion based.

Following the success of the ukelele group, a band has been formed, called ‘Thirty Chords of Grey’. They have already performed at Conisbrough Coronation Concert and the u3a Music Fest which was held at York St John’s University. There is also the Alive and Singing choir who give an annual concert each Christmas, plus a singing for fun group.

Over the last 12 months, many new groups have been established by members, all bringing something different to the choice of activities on offer.

Drawn together by a love of craftwork such as crochet, knitting, patchwork, cross stitch, and embroidery, the new Yarn Addicts group started in January. They meet Wednesday mornings at The Centre in Brinsworth.

Bridge returned to Rotherham u3a in May and now has an enthusiastic and growing membership. Mini bridge is also offered to introduce would-be players into the full game. Both forms are taught and supported by an experienced player. They meet Thursday afternoons at Broom Lane Methodist Church.

As well as the established French, German, Italian and Spanish conversation groups, there is now a chance for absolute beginners to learn Spanish from scratch. It will be trialled from September, running for ten weeks, and led by an experienced Spanish teacher who lived and taught in Spain for most of his working life.

Rotherham u3a offers a variety of ‘walking’ sports, those played to the same rules but at a slower pace. The walking cricket team has gone from strength to strength since starting in 2022 and now has more than 30 members. In June, one member, Angie Nash, was selected to play for the Yorkshire Walking Cricket Team at their first county game where they beat a Worcestershire team.

There is also now a walking football group that meets Monday mornings at St Anne’s Leisure Centre. This follows a successful trial period led by Rotherham United Community Trust who sponsored the team throughout the past year, providing a coach, equipment and paying for pitch hire.

Walking netball is also being trialled thanks to the support of RUCT, with a group of ten members meeting on Monday afternoons at St Anne’s. They ideally need 14 members before it can become an established Ru3a group.

How can you get involved?

Whatever your interest, you can have two free trial sessions of any one activity before you decide whether to become a u3a member.

They are also hosting an open day on Saturday 14th October where you can find out more about what Rotherham u3a is all about. The event will take place between 10.30am and 2.30pm at Herringthorpe United Reform Church, Wickersley Road S60 4JN. There will be stalls and displays of many group activities, with demos taking place throughout the day. Refreshments will also be available.

Find the full details of all group activities and contact details for each co-ordinator on their website.